There is not a person on this earth, with a normal human heart, that was not affected deeply by the horrific images of the people and children in Syria struck down mercilessly by a heartless regime. This latest atrocity affected Trump enough that he took action to let his and the United States displeasure and outrage be known in no uncertain way. Tonight (April 6, 2017), the U.S. hit the Syrian airbase with 50-odd missiles from its warships in the Mediterranean, from which the air-strike that dropped the ‘Sarin’ gas was suspected to have been launched. This strike, while seemingly justified, is symbolic at best, of the message of outrage of the U.S., and as proxy of the World. The critical question that sprang to mind right after, of course was, where to from here?
In launching this retaliatory strike the U.S. has, in a manner, ignored the backers of Syria: Russia and Iran. And while most of the World, and some in Russia and Iran, would be pleased by the quick punishing blow to a criminal regime (in terms of a war crime), overall for Russia, and Iran, it’s a warning shot of the possibility of future retaliation, greater engagement by the U.S. and the West in Syria, perhaps, but certainly the reassertion of American hegemony in the World, and the will to act almost unilaterally, at its own volition.
This flies in the face of the most recent statement by Trump’s administration’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, that the U.S. was going to leave Syria to its own devices, especially where the fate of Bashar Al-Assad (Syrian President) was concerned. We guess that position has changed dramatically.
Apart from Russia taking note of this shift (it will be interesting to see how Putin will ultimately react) there is Iran, Hamas from Gaza, and ironically there is China’s President Xi JinPing, who happens to be on his first trip to meet with Trump, to whom this strike also sends messages pertinent to possible future confrontations in South China Sea, and more pressingly, regarding the problem of its ever errant protectorate, North Korea. The Chinese and particularly President Xi will view this development with some inward alarm, as a resurgent war-like, aggressive America poses different sets of problems for China.
And then there is the Islamic State (ISIS). It is definitely on the decline but still ensconced in parts of Syria. Any weakening of the Assad regime means some respite to the Islamic State. Total destruction of the Syrian regime will mean Iraq like chaos in the country, as all factions there, and there are many, will battle for control, to the possible rejuvenation of ISIS. And that is expressly against the long term good of the U.S., and the rest of the World.
Trump has got his much wanted successful military action, and for a good cause, but the longer term ramifications are complex and fraught with danger.